Comic-Con International starts tonight and runs through Sunday, and as usual, Speed Force will be there to provide you with Flash-centric coverage.
Covering the Con
I’ll be onsite Thursday and Friday, tweeting and sharing photos from the floor, and posting photos nightly to Flickr. I’ll also be participating in SDCCBlog’s photo & video event on Google+. Watch for live coverage in the following places:
Plus we’ll be keeping an eye on the news reports out of the con for Flash-related announcements and Q&A items from panels.
Sadly, I won’t be able to make the Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox premiere on Friday evening. If you’re going to be at the con, plan on catching the premeire, and would like to write up the after-screening discussion panel, please let me know through the contact form. Thank you!
Downtime on Thursday
In a case of unfortunate timing, our web host will be doing scheduled maintenance on Thursday, so the site will be down for about an hour sometime between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm Pacific time. I’ve set up a static mirror, so the front page and existing articles should stay up, but commenting and new articles won’t be available during that time. Sorry, no liveblog of the DC All Access panel.
We covered two other conventions earlier this year:
We’ve also got a list of Tips for Comic-Con to help you make your most of San Diego (and other cons, though some of the tips are SDCC-specific). Finally, here’s the archive of all our 2012 Comic-Con coverage from last year.
You’ve probably noticed a few site outages here at Speed Force over the last few months. Well, here’s warning for another one. My webhost will be upgrading the network this Thursday evening after 10:00 pm PDT.
DreamHost is allowing four hours for the planned maintenance, but they expect actual downtime to be “minimal.”
With luck, the improvements will prevent the sort of unplanned downtime that’s been a problem lately.
In the event of an extended outage (this week or any other time), you can usually find me on Twitter at @SpeedForceOrg, and you can catch up on recent posts on the SpeedForce Tumblr. If you don’t see anything about it in one of those places, please let me know – it’s possible I’ve missed an alert and don’t know yet.
UPDATE It looks like either I misread the announcement or Dreamhost swapped the LAX & Irvine plans (judging by the URL on the now-404ed original post, I’m guessing the former). In any case, the site was down for about half an hour Wednesday evening during the maintenance window. The funny thing is that I spent three hours tonight working on a network migration for my job. Now there’s timing!
Sorry for the extended outage last night. It was one of those perfect storm situations: Ordinarily, it would have rebooted on its own and been back up within minutes, but it locked up instead. Ordinarily, I would have been reading my email and seen the alert quickly, but I didn’t turn on my computer until almost midnight, and wasn’t reading it on my phone. Ordinarily, rebooting the webserver manually would have solved the problem, but it couldn’t connect to the DB. Ordinarly, tech support would have responded to my trouble report sooner, but they were doing planned maintenance on another system.
For the techies & tech-curious: Something caused memory usage on the web server to spike and lock up. Rebooting (hours later) solved that issue, but the web server couldn’t connect to the database. As far as I could tell the DB server wasn’t responding, but when tech support got involved, it turned out to be a network issue on the webserver.
It’s really frustrating. There were problems earlier last year, but they’d mostly settled out by late summer. From then on it was a few minutes here, a few minutes there. In fact, there was no downtime at all between early December and last Thursday. And now to be out for ~10 hours? It’s especially frustrating because I just consolidated all my domain names at Dreamhost last week.
In the future, if the site’s down and you want to know what’s going on or whether I already know about it, please check @SpeedForceOrg on Twitter. I’ll post updates on the site status there, and you can read the page even if you don’t have a Twitter account. If you don’t see anything there, please e-mail me at
speedforce at pobox dot com. And if you just want to read recent posts, you can always check the Tumblr blog.
So, yeah, the site’s been having some stability problems. Dreamhost has changed some settings to deal with disk issues, but the new settings require more memory, and it’s just been one big swallow-the-spider-to-catch-the-fly experience. It’s mostly working at this point, but if you end up having problems loading the site or making a comment, please let me know by email at speedforce at pobox.com or on Twitter at @speedforceorg.
Also, a lot of comment spam has been slipping through the last couple of days. It’s mostly the “I found your site on Google and this is such a fascinating analysis” type of robot-generated flattery (even on things like linkposts) that quietly links back to the spamvertised site. I’ve been clearing it out as quickly as I can, but they keep posting at times like when I’m on the road or in a meeting at work, etc.
The upshot is that I’ve turned on moderation for now. I don’t like to pre-moderate everything because that can slow down discussion, but I’ve set it to let through returning commenters and hold comments from new people until I have a chance to review them.
I apologize to those who’ve tried to visit the site this weekend and couldn’t see it. Apparently when I upgraded one of my plugins (WP Super-Cache, which normally improves performance on the site), it tried to enable a feature on the server that it didn’t have permission to turn on. Whenever it tried to load a page from the cache, it would run into the permissions problem and show a “500 Internal Server Error” page.
Of course, since I was always logged in when I looked at the site, it never tried to load the page from the cache, so I never saw the error. I even made a few posts.
Reminder to self: When updating plugins, always test the site both while logged in and while not logged in!
Technical details: The .htaccess file in the wp-content/cache folder didn’t have permission to turn on expiration (the error in Apache’s logs was “ExpiresActive not allowed here”). Solution: add “AllowOverride Indexes” to the folder’s area in the server configuration.